News roundup for Fri, May 27, 2022

(Editor’s note: I’m going to take a break on Memorial Day so there will be no news roundup published on Tuesday. I’ll resume the next Friday, June 3. Enjoy your weekend folks 🙂)

In short
  • Russia offered to stop a maritime blockade preventing grain exports in exchange for sanction relief
  • ExxonMobil is going to trial over its lying about global warming
  • Polish president warns of mass migration to Europe due to food shortages
Uvalde school shooting

A mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas left 21 people dead and 17 injured. A cop accidentally got one kid shot while he was on the scene trying to help. One of the children survived because she put blood on herself and played dead, her aunt said.

There have been already ten mass murders in the US in 2022, with the previous one in Buffalo, NY being racially motivated. The FBI just on Monday had released a report that shows a steep rise in ‘active’ shooters. The report also shows an increase in the number of “roving” shooters, who move from place to place in search of victims.

Conspiracy theories are already spreading online around the shooting. It’s a tactic that serves two purposes: It avoids real conversations about the issue (of gun violence), and it gives people who don’t want to face reality someone to blame. Here’s how to avoid misinformation as you read about Uvalde and other mass shootings.

And here is what you can do to survive an active shooter event:

  • Practice situational awareness (i.e. know your exit routes, call the police if seeing something suspicious, etc).
  • Learn first aid skills, especially how to stop the bleed (i.e. apply pressure). If you carry one item in your IFAK, make it a tourniquet.
  • During: Run, hide, or fight. When hiding, avoid grouping together–spread out to make yourself a smaller target. Keep quiet: don’t make the same mistake that poor kid did when she shouted for help (nor her fault, mind you).
  • After: Follow the law’s enforcement instructions. Keep your hands empty and visible at all times as you could be mistaken for a shooter.

Read more here, and here. Check out more tips and an excellent discussion in this forum post by community member Robert Larson.

Active Shooter Response
via UMSL
Monkeypox update
  • The virus has spread to more than 300 people in more than 20 countries and ten US states.
  • No deaths.
  • Community spread is suspected.
  • There’s a risk that it could become endemic if it reaches the animal population. The UK says that pet hamsters belonging to monkeypox patients should be isolated or killed.
  • Prolonged contact or proximity (within 1 meter/3ft) seems to be the riskiest behavior.
  • Most cases resolve in 2-4 weeks without the need for hospitalization.
  • The symptoms should be easy to spot from the beginning: flu-like symptoms, like fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, etc. After one to three days: rashes, which turn into liquid-filled pustules and scabs. The veterinarian who got monkeypox during the last outbreak in 2003 describes the symptoms.
  • If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms, rashes, scabs, etc., contact a healthcare professional immediately.
  • The UK contact tracing guidance seems helpful to understand what the risks are for now. As an example, sitting between 1 and 3 meters (3-9 ft) of a symptomatic case or within three rows, but not directly next to, a case on a plane is considered low risk and does not require PEP or isolation (if asymptomatic).
Economy, food security, and mass migration

US households need to brace for high electricity bills this summer. Natural gas is the source of about 38% of electricity generated in the US. With high natural gas prices, energy companies are forced to pass the extra costs to customers. Prices are supposed to stay high until next winter.

Economists found that women who are denied abortions risk falling deeper into poverty. Conversely, access to abortion offers a major boost to women and their kid’s economic prospects. Another recent study found that women who were denied an abortion were four times as likely to be living in poverty years later.

A coalition of Christian leaders will urge Congress to broaden access to the child tax credit. The child tax credit was expanded last year in the White House’s pandemic relief legislation, allowing most US families monthly payments of up to $300 per child, but lawmakers let the expanded version expire. The Christian leaders want the credit to be refundable, which would reduce child poverty by 20%.

Nearly half of Canadians are finding it difficult to feed their families, amid rising food costs.  And how is Latin America handling inflation?

Economists forecast a 30% reduction in Russia’s GDP by the end of the year:

USDA will help cover the costs for states to buy alternative baby formulas. Currently, Abbott is covering the cost of non-Abbott formulas for states that have contracts with the company. USDA will cover the additional costs for states that have contracts with Gerber or Reckitt Mead Johnson if the size, form, or brand of formula covered by the state’s contract isn’t available. Kendamil, the only UK-made baby milk brand on the market, will start sending 2 million cans of infant formula to the US starting in the next week or so.

A Russian naval blockade has halted maritime trade at Ukrainian ports. Russia’s defense ministry says it will lift its blockade in exchange for sanctions relief. NATO’s next supreme allied commander said that the blockade may require US military intervention to ensure global markets don’t become destabilized.

India will restrict its exports of sugarIndia is the world’s biggest producer of sugar and the second largest exporter behind Brazil.

Polish president Duda warns that food shortages in Africa will lead to mass migration to Southern Europe.

Opinion: To get into the US legally, climate refugees need to show they’re facing violence or persecution at home. Advocates say it’s time to accept climate change as a good-enough cause.

Climate and energy

ExxonMobil is going to trial over lying about its knowledge that carbon emissions cause global warming. I wanted to put this up top because, although the outcome of the trial might not have a practical prepping consequence, it’s a big deal in itself. This company is supposed to be directly responsible for the global warming that is causing the extreme weather and climate change we need to prepare for now. Even more maddening, they were already working on solar, electric batteries, and other renewables back in the 70s but decided to go after immediate profits instead. If you’re interested in the story, I highly recommend watching the Black Gold documentary that came out recently on Paramount+.

California introduced new water restrictions, the strictest so far, foreshadowing what will become “the new normal.” Local water agencies have to cut water use by up to 20%, and businesses and other commercial properties aren’t allowed to water ornamental lawns. Gov. Newsom warned that without significant reductions this summer, the state could enact even more cuts.

Texas drought is triggering wildfires, water restrictions, and crop disasters. More than 16 million Texans are affected by severe drought. Since September, the average rainfall in Texas is less than 10 in—the first time that’s happened since 1925. More than 200 Texas counties have received crop disaster designations. The lack of rainfall has also prompted at least 15 water utilities to issue mandatory water use restrictions. And since January, more than 400,000 acres have burned, more than seven times as many acres as last year.

‘Flash droughts” are the new climate threat to the Midwest. In the Central United States, the percentage of flash droughts developing in less than a week has gone up by more than 20% in the past 20 years. The damage flash droughts can cause depends on the crop and the time of year. Brazil, India, and multiple countries in Africa are facing the worst impacts of flash droughts.

Flash droughts can dry out an area in the span of weeks. The top images show the impact of a flash drought in Oklahoma in 2012, compared to the same area two years later in the bottom row. Jeffrey Basara

A hotter and thirstier atmosphere will cause more severe drought, flash droughts even in wetter areas, and snow droughts in the coming decades:

via The Conversation

Here’s the latest US drought map (click to link):

via U.S. Drought Monitor

Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia are experiencing an unusual amount of sandstorms. The sandstorms have sent thousands to hospitals with breathing problems and caused the closure of airports, schools, and government offices. Mismanagement of agricultural areas, drought, and climate change are seen as the culprits.

New York’s Central Park is home to a climate adaptation experiment that will study the effects of heatwaves, record rains, and algae bloom on green spaces.

Stellantis will build a $2.5B EV battery plant in Indiana. The launch will be in 2025 and they aim at selling 5 million batteries annually by 2030.

Solar microgrids are keeping Ukraine’s hospitals running.

The rest

The Ring of Fire is awake. There has been a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Peru, as well as various earthquakes above 4 in California, Mexico, Fiji, and Nicaragua all in one day:

via USGS Earthquake Hazards Program (click to link)

Look at the video below: Note how the people holding on to the light posts are at risk of something falling over them (like the ad panel that fell on one of the cars on the right, just a few seconds earlier). The safer way to go through an earthquake without falling over would have been to lay on the ground in the middle of the road, away from the light poles and anything that could fall on you. What else would you have done differently or the same? FYI you can review our earthquake safety and prepping tips here.

Here’s an interactive map that shows you how close you live to the ‘Threat Radius’ of an oil and gas site:

via Oil&Gas Threat Map (click to link)

And here’s a neat tool that tracks heat records in 400 US cities.

Walmart is expanding its drone delivery service to 34 sites across Arizona, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. It will cost $3.99 per delivery of up to 10 lb.

Pfizer will sell patented drugs not-for-profit in 45 low-income countries.


    • Captain Peanut

      Thank you for the news! Hope you enjoy a break for Memorial Day, you deserve it!

      I’ve never heard of a flash drought before. There sure are a lot of possible disasters out there isn’t there?

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Captain Peanut

        Thanks, Captain Peanut!

        Same, never heard of flash drought before. But now I have a word for what I’ve experienced here and, to be honest, in Europe (Czechia), too: “snow drought”. Winters have become wetter, in some cases little to no snow at all, and it’s raining instead (in Czechia this has been going on for the past 10 years or so–people complain that they don’t have a white Christmas anymore, and it’s just mud). In the US it has not been that extreme or predictable yet for me, but the snowpack melting early, and more rain is definitely a thing.

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    • Amazing mood

      How do i subscribe

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    • Amy S.

      I always appreciate these news roundups –and this was one of the very best ones.  You covered many news stories I had missed (and that I am glad to know about!) and thank you for the wide breadth of topics in this one.  Really great job!  

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      • Greg P Amy S.

        Thanks for the heads up on the battery plant.  I’m going to have to pay more attention to CNBC I guess.  I live about 30 miles from where the plant will go in, but hadn’t heard a thing about it before seeing the link in the roundup.  

        The link from another post ( impending shortages – forum) was very interesting as well.  It gives quite the interesting 10,000 foot view of agriculture, for the US & the rest of the world.  

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Take a first aid class. Training and practice are key.
      • Put together, or check on, your first aid kit. You want to have high quality items you are familiar with.
      • Practice using your gear. Run through the motions of dressing a wound, assessing triage, applying a tourniquet, etc. Practicing repeatedly in a low-stress situation can help to train your mind and reflexes for doing the real thing.
      • Volunteer with a first aid group. Organizations such as the Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, or others in your area often accept volunteers. Once trained, you may be able to sign up for a volunteer shift at events such as races, marathons, concerts, and so on. This can be a way to practice using your first aid skills, or seeing experts in action.
      • Donate blood. If you are able, this can be a generous way to help your community, or improve your own mental health.
      • Talk to your friends, family, or loved ones. Check how they are doing. Connecting with someone could benefit you both.
      • Consider how you can cope with stressful situations. There are some good forum threads.
      • Check your masks and respirators. Make sure you have some quality N95 or better.
      • Learn about other options for self-managed abortion or support
      • Keep working on your finances. As mentioned in a previous comment – looking for other job options may be a valuable use of your time.
      • Start a garden. You can still learn how to grow some of your own food, and build a useful skill.
      • Search for a community garden. Perhaps one has already started nearby, and you could learn from experts.
      • Keep building your pantry. If you can afford an extra purchase or two each month, it adds up.
      • Consider a rain barrel project. Capturing and storing rain water may be a good way to improve your drought tolerance, and water those vegetables you planted.
      • Prepare for the heat. Whether it is already hot, or not yet hot where you live – think how you can stay cool, find shade, store water, and slow down.
      • Plant a tree. The more trees we plant, the more we help to retain moisture and keep things cool.
      • Get some exercise
      • Read a book. Or find some way to relax and a moment of enjoyment.

      Have a productive weekend.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      I like this story about creating small solar microgrids, especially in the context of emergency response.
      They give examples of working to power several small systems, rooms, or a building rather than a large area:

      > 2kWh portable solar battery systems
      > [one of our systems] can run a WiFi computer station for 24 hours or a surgical suite with lighting for six to 12 hours”
      > Traditional glass panels reflect light so they could easily be targeted .. [our systems use] flexible panels that don’t contain glass and just look like a black mat
      > What we’re doing today, you just couldn’t have done even two or three years ago.

      Would love to see this type of thing become common and available everywhere.

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    • Colorado Jones

      Thanks for this weekend’s updates, Carlotta!  As always, very informative.

      Any chance the Prepared has considered doing an in-depth article on “What to do if you witness an active shooting,” similar, perhaps, to this article

      In particular, I’d like to see something going a bit more in-depth on the first aid side of things.  Carry a tourniquet?  Of course, but how many should I have on hand for an active shooting?  One is better than nothing but could I realistically treat more victims in that setting if I carried more tourniquets?  Likewise, what about other supplies–pressure bandages, gauze, etc.

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      • Sir Henry Colorado Jones

        So my answer to you would be, “Carry as much as possible for you.” Split it up and have access to many nearby instead of being the lone person with a backpack filled of tourniquets. Put two on the baby stroller, one in the diaper bag, one on your belt, and two in the car. 

        Some events like a day at the gun range would allow you to pack more, such as an entire dufflebag of first aid gear. You are able to do this because carrying packs to the gun range doesn’t seem weird or out of place, and your risk of accidentally getting shot is higher. 

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      • Colorado Jones Sir Henry

        Good suggestions, Sir Henry!

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Colorado Jones

        Thanks for the suggestion! In the meantime, I’ll link to the How to stop bleeding guide, in case someone finds it helpful.

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